Pakistan-India tensions: Top military officials to meet face-to-face

Indian PM Manmohan Singh (R) and PM Nawaz Sharif (L). PHOTO: AFP

Indian PM Manmohan Singh (R) and PM Nawaz Sharif (L). PHOTO: AFP

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, ISLAMABAD, 14th OCTOBER 2013: Amidst soaring tensions, senior military officials from Pakistan and India are expected to meet next month to come up with a clear plan to restore ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC), officials told The Express Tribune on Sunday.

The decision to lower the ongoing tensions at the LoC was taken during a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month.

The two premiers instructed their respective directors general military operations (DGMOs) to evolve a mechanism to avoid a repeat of ceasefire violations at the LoC.

A senior government official said that under the existing mechanism, the DGMOs talked to each other through a hotline every Tuesday.

“But at the New York summit the two prime ministers agreed that they [DGMOs] should have face-to-face talks,” he said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. He said the mechanism and venue for the meeting between the top military officials had yet to be worked out.

When contacted, a military official said it was not yet clear whether the talks would take place at the level of DGMOs or as part of the overall dialogue.

A foreign ministry official separately said the situation was still uncertain because New Delhi was not receptive to Islamabad’s peace overtures for now.

Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday painted a grim picture about the prospects of resuming stalled peace talks with Pakistan. He said the two nuclear-armed neighbours still had not reached a stage where they could resume the process.

“I must make it very clear that we have not reached a stage where we can do something like resuming talks [with Pakistan],” he said after returning to India following a trip with Singh to Indonesia. He also termed the recent incidents along the LoC ‘upsetting’ and not conducive to the normalisation of ties.

Tensions along the LoC have flared in recent months. The Indian military has accused Pakistani forces of helping militants infiltrate Indian-administered Kashmir.

The ongoing tensions prompted army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to break his silence and term the Indian allegations as ‘unfortunate, unfounded and provocative’.

He insisted that the Pakistan Army was exercising restraint but the same should in no way be used as a pretext for levelling such “baseless allegations that vitiate prospects of regional peace.”

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